Insurers, Regulators May Have Little Incentive to Constrain Rising ACA Premiums

As health insurers decide how to price their Affordable Care Act exchange plans for the 2024 plan year, inflation, COVID-related costs and Medicaid redeterminations are some of the major factors influencing their calculations, according to a new issue brief from the American Academy of Actuaries. Industry experts say that overall, gross premiums are likely to go up — but because few consumers will feel the impact on their net premiums thanks to expanded subsidies, insurers and regulators may not be driven to aggressively keep rates in check.

“I think the early read right now is the rate increases are going to be higher than last year,” says Fritz Busch, a principal and consulting actuary at Milliman who helped produce the report. In 2023, the average benchmark ACA exchange premium rose by 3.4%. “It’s going to vary by state, but you’re already seeing some [rate requests] well into the double digits — and some single as well — but I think, on average, it’s going to be higher.”

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Leslie Small

Leslie Small

Leslie has been working in journalism since 2009 and reporting on the health care industry since 2014. She has covered the many ups and downs of the Affordable Care Act exchanges, the failed health insurer mega-mergers, and hundreds of other storylines spanning subjects such as Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage, employer-sponsored insurance, and prescription drug coverage. As the managing editor of Health Plan Weekly and Radar on Drug Benefits, she writes and edits for both publications while overseeing a small team of reporters who also focus on the managed care sector. Before joining AIS Health, she was a senior editor for the e-newsletter Fierce Health Payer, and she started her career as a copy editor at multiple local newspapers. She graduated with a dual degree in journalism and political science from Penn State University.

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